JOE BIDDLE: How sweep it is

(Graphic: WKRN)

Get out the brooms.

Let the top-seed Chicago Blackhawks see them.

Smashville indeed. Getting over the hump was not easy. The Predators had to work hard to take out the Blackhawks in four games.

They are the only No. 8 seed to ever defeat a No. 1 seed in an best-of-seven series in NHL history. The Predators completed the sweep, leaving no doubt which was the best team.

A 1-0 thriller in Game 1 in Chi-town followed by a 5-0 laugher as they left the Windy City to never return. A 3-2 overtime win in Game 3. Game 4 was as close as it could be to becoming a second shutout. A late empty net goal sent the 4-1 Preds’ decision in the books.

Game 4 was all Predators when Roman Josi’s goal put the icing on the cake with a 3-1 lead. An empty net goal late in the game sent the Smashville faithful breathing a sigh of relief with the final win at Bridgestone Arena Thursday night.

It was a scoreless first period that hinted Thursday night’s game would not find the Blackhawks going home without a fight.

In the second period, a one-timer by Josi allowed the sellout crowd to at least exhale. After all Predators goalie Pekka Rinne played as flawless a series that any goalie could ever hope for.
The Predators second goal was accidently made by Chicago goalie Corey Crawford, as he backed it into his own goal. He never saw the puck. The goal was given to Predators center Colton Sissons.

The opening series belonged to the Predators. They stunned NHL non-believers who have been accustomed to the Predators having never gone past their second playoff series in history.

This Predators edition will be remembered for a long time. Hopefully they will duplicate what they did in this series and not take the next opponent for granted.

At one point in the game Rinne has turned back 121 of 123 shots in the series. He finished by stopping 123 of 126 Chicago shots. The veteran goalie has been as steady as it gets. General Manager David Poile has built a roster that has allowed this team to get where it is. Rinne is the main piece of the pie.

Poile also gets credit for bringing Coach Peter Laviolette on board. Don’t minimize his part in this success story. While former coach Barry Trotz leaned heavily on defense, Laviolette fine-tuned an offense that evened the scales.

They now have the confidence they can be the first Predators team to win the first two series. One down, one to go. Why not them?

Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at joebiddle11@gmail.com.